Seattle-based design practice Civilization kicks off its annual Design Lecture Series this month, featuring a slew of graphic design legends including Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, Jerome Harris, M/M Paris, and Irma Boom. Each speaker will share inspiring stories of their experiences and initiate engaging conversations around the importance of design in our contemporary world. The free, four-part series, held at the Seattle Public Library’s downtown location, begins on Friday, February 7 at 6:30 p.m. with Levrant de Bretteville. While this date is already sold out, standby seats will be available that night. Pro tip: Snag tickets to the next talk in advance!
The Design Lecture Series is sponsored by GRAY, Blu Dot, Thompson Hotels, Mohawk, Hemlock, Totokaelo, Rudy’s, Design Within Reach, Allied Arts Foundation, mamnoon, mbar, fruitsuper, The Seattle Public Library, Convention Totes, Jacob Lawrence Gallery, Aesop, and Arcade.
Sheila Levrant de Bretteville
Friday, February 7 (sold out)
Sheila Levrant de Bretteville is a graphic designer, artist, and educator whose work reflects her belief in the importance of diversity and equality in graphic design and celebrating diversity in local communities. In 1969, while the California Institute of the Arts was being planned, Levrant de Bretteville was asked to create the graphic identity for the institute, where she soon after landed her first teaching job. Two years later she left to co-founded the independent Los Angeles “Woman’s Building,” a public center for female culture, and its Women’s Graphic Center. After leaving the Woman’s Building to the next generation in 1981, Levant de Bretteville crossed the country and initiated the Communication Design and Illustration program at the Otis Art Institute of the Parsons School of Design. She later joined the Yale School of Art faculty as its first tenured woman in 1990 and has served as a professor and director of graduate studies in the graphic design program (one of the oldest and most important in the country) for more than 30 years.
Friday, March 6
Jerome Harris is a graphic designer, educator, writer, and curator from New Haven, CT, and is currently based out of New York City. He holds an MFA in graphic design from Yale University and a BA in Communications from Temple University.
Harris’s research into the exclusion of African-American graphic designers in the industry has manifested as a traveling exhibition that has shown at multiple universities and arts organizations throughout 2019. The show, As, For Not: Dethroning Our Absolutes, an incomplete historical survey of work created by African-American graphic designers over the last century, was originally mounted at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), then will go on to show at RISD and Jacob Lawrence Gallery and Non-Breaking Space in Seattle, in spring 2020.
April 2020 (date TBA)
Michael Amzalag and Mathias Augustyniak formed their studio, M/M (Paris), in 1992. Since its founding, the firm has become one of this generation’s most distinctive and influential voices in graphic design.
The studio’s portfolio includes art direction for and collaborations with Björk, Balenciaga, and Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin, as well as work with magazines including Vogue Paris, Interview, and Purple Fashion. Since 1996 Amzalag and Augustyniak have extended their practice through the mounting of art exhibitions, and the duo has been included in group shows at Palais de Tokyo (Paris), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York) and Centre Pompidou (Paris).
Saturday, May 9
Irma Boom is a Dutch graphic designer who specializes in bookmaking. Described as “The Queen of Books” thanks to her creation of more than 300 page-turners, Boom is well reputed for her artistic autonomy within her field. Her bold experimental approach to projects often challenges the convention of traditional books in both physical design and printed content.
As Publisher’s Weekly explains, “What Boom does with books breaks all the rules. She designs them without page numbers (‘Without page numbers, you discover other things that you were not looking for,’ she says); she designs them without ink, without text (as in her homage to artist Ellsworth Kelly), or with text that spills over into the margins. She makes ‘fat’ books of thousands of pages; she makes books so tiny they fit in the palm of a hand. She doesn’t think of an audience. “‘If it’s good,’ she says, ‘the audience will appear.’” Boom is the youngest recipient of the Gutenberg Prize, an award that recognizes outstanding services to the advancement of the book arts. A selection of her books are held in the permanent collection of MoMA, and a personalized Irma Boom Archive has been set up at the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, showcasing Boom’s work. Tickets go on sale on April 22 at noon.